Adobe Promises Flash Video Acceleration on Netbooks: Not For a While, And Not For Everyone

HD Flash video, which has a hearty appetite for CPU cycles, and Intel's Atom, which doesn't have huge surplus of said CPU cycles, have never made a great couple. So Adobe getting serious about Flash hardware acceleration on netbooks is great news! For some. Eventually.

The announcement comes in two parts: one from Nvidia; one from Broadcom. Both promise full hardware acceleration for Flash video, primarily by means of upgrades to Adobe's plugin, which guarantees smooth playback of HD flash video, which is becoming the norm for online streaming content, and more importantly in my mind, much, much lower CPU usage during regular video playback.

The reason for this announcement strategy, unfortunately, is that the first wave of optimisation will only benefit hardware based on either Nvidia's powerhouse Tegra solution, or Atom netbooks which have Broadcom's Crystal HD video acceleration add-on, which must either be installed by the OEM (rare) or plugged into a PCI-E Mini port or ExpressCard port. In other words, current-gen netbooks, based on Intel's chipsets, are kinda left out in the cold, unless Adobe pulls something out of their hat before release.

About that release: we won't even see this Flash upgrade for Atom until "the first half of 2010", though the release hints the Tegra will support it from the get-go. I expect more partnered announcement like this to drop before then, and for GPU-accelerated Flash to become the norm eventually, but for now: Adooobeeee!

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